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Listen for the Lie


Listen for the Lie

Bestselling YA author Amy Tintera makes her leap to adult fiction in LISTEN FOR THE LIE, a smart and biting thriller about a cold case that rocked a small town…and the secrets, assumptions and lies that have kept its legend alive ever since.

Five years ago, the city of Plumpton, Texas, was rocked when a wedding, the happiest night of one couple’s life, was outshined by what happened after: the death of one of Plumpton’s most beloved and beautiful girls. Savannah Harper had left the wedding with her best friend, Lucy Chase. By morning, Savannah was found dead and bloodied, while Lucy had been attacked but was alive, covered in blood and defensive wounds. Lucy suffered a devastating brain injury and confessed that she could not remember anything about that night, except that she and her husband, Matt, had shown up with Savannah and her boyfriend, Colin.

With no leads to pursue, the case was left unsolved, but the people of Plumpton all claim to know who did it: Lucy.

"This is stellar thriller writing: propulsive and shocking, but grounded in real-world truths and clear-eyed observations of our sick obsessions with crime, beauty and reputation. I cannot recommend it enough."

The case failed to make national waves, and Lucy, having fled to California, has survived mostly under the radar…until Ben Owens' popular podcast, "Listen for the Lie," dedicates its new season to solving Savannah’s murder. In one fell swoop, Lucy is fired from her job and unceremoniously dismissed from her lackluster (but live-in) boyfriend. So when her beloved grandmother --- just about the only person who has ever trusted in her innocence --- begs her to return to Plumpton for her 80th birthday, Lucy is hard-pressed to find a reason to decline, even when she hears her grandmother’s closing words: “And Lucy? You heard about that podcast, right? The one about you?” Now she’ll have to face a town that hates her, parents and former friends who don’t believe her, and a podcaster set on exploiting her. Fun!

But Ben is far from exploitative, and even Lucy can begrudgingly admit that he has some serious investigative chops. He solved a cold case in the first season of his podcast, and despite digging up some traumatizing, painful memories, he seems dedicated to uncovering the truth...all the truths of that night. And Lucy, who still has no memory of what happened, is surprised by the truths he finds, especially the ones that poke holes in the stories of witnesses.

Colin has long sworn that he went straight home that night, but Ben quickly determines that he actually met another woman, putting his whereabouts at the time of Savannah’s death into question. Matt also was hiding some secrets at the time of and immediately after the murder. None of these details proves Lucy’s innocence wholly, nor do they condemn another suspect. But for the first time, someone is asking real questions about that night and why the town was so quick to accuse Lucy, a young woman who, Ben reminds them, was also injured and was subjected to difficult, painful questioning.

The fact that Lucy has amnesia doesn’t mean that she lacks secrets of her own. For starters, the simple fact of being surrounded by and constantly reminded of murder will do things to one’s mind. Haunted by Savannah’s memory and the guilt that her own town has so willingly leveled at her, Lucy has harbored a dark voice in her mind that goads her into dreaming, thinking about and planning murders, and taunting her to face the truth, whatever it may be. Lucy can’t keep living like this, and as everyone is so keen to forget, Savannah was her friend too.

So Lucy, a wry, witty and too-smart-for-her-own-good narrator, reluctantly teams up with Ben to tell her story for the first time. “What story?” you might be asking, since she still attests to remembering nothing from that night. But as Ben proves, the story of a single act, a single night, is never limited to just the moments that make it. As Lucy starts to consider her friendship with Savannah, she realizes that the events of that night were set into motion much earlier, and not necessarily by her. Someone is lying and has been for years…but to figure out who will mean really listening to the stories from that night. Can you spot the lie?

Written in alternating chapters and podcast transcripts, LISTEN FOR THE LIE is a sharp, biting commentary on our fascination with true crime, the insular and dangerous nature of small towns, and, more than anything, the dangers of being an “unlikable” woman. Lucy is a deeply compelling protagonist, and her dry wit and sharp tongue propel the narrative, all the while welding you to Lucy and the notion of proving her innocence. Digging back into her childhood in Plumpton, the heady early days of her marriage and friendship with Savannah, and the investigation, Tintera paints a picture of a woman long, long, long taken for granted and demonized, so it’s easy to sympathize with Lucy’s anger and resolve.

Paired with Ben’s podcast transcripts, which highlight numerous inconsistencies both in citizens’ stories and in their morals, the plot absolutely soars, running from twist to twist while painting a vivid, rich portrait of a town married to its gossip and secrets, and supported by its lies.

This is stellar thriller writing: propulsive and shocking, but grounded in real-world truths and clear-eyed observations of our sick obsessions with crime, beauty and reputation. I cannot recommend it enough.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on March 8, 2024

Listen for the Lie
by Amy Tintera

  • Publication Date: March 5, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Celadon Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250880319
  • ISBN-13: 9781250880314